From Baseball to the Priesthood

Grant Desme was a rising star in the Oakland A’s franchise, possibly starting this season playing AA baseball. (AAA is even better, followed by the major leagues.)

He batted .288 with 31 home runs and 89 RBIs in 131 games last year. Then he starred in the Arizona Fall League, where some of the game’s top prospects compete.

Desme hit one home run in his 12-game tenure with the team, but [broadcaster Rob] Fai remembers it as “probably the longest home run in franchise history.”

Desme is leaving baseball, though.

To become a priest:

“I’m doing well in baseball,” Desme told reporters on Friday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “But I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. … I love the game, but I’m going to aspire to higher things.”

There’s a good chance he might not have made it to the major leagues due to some injuries in his shoulder and wrist. During his injury-induced time off, he had time “to read and study the Bible and to talk to teammates about his faith.”

I don’t mock him for his decision — it’s a personal one. But, like his coach, I have a difficult time understanding it.

Ron Gold explains the confusion perfectly:

Desme presumably wants to help people. Helping people usually costs money. So why not play baseball for a few years, which can pay very lucrative, and then give part of that fortune to Haitian orphans?

There are plenty of people who give up well-paying jobs to do something they are more passionate about. It seems like Desme fits that mold.

I guess I’m just intrigued that anyone’s passion would lie in a Catholic Church.

  • Siamang

    I know a guy who gave up being a Hollywood producer to go to seminary.

    People just have their dreams. Nobody can explain it to someone else.

  • Shannon

    Good for him!

    The Haitian quote is unfair. There are always going to be people to help. Always. And there will always be people who think you are being selfish to follow your dreams and make the best of the one life you have. Fuck em, I say.

  • finnegan

    I would bet that he is gay and this is his way of not having to deal with it.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    Seems like a waste of talent, but what do I know?

  • Miko

    Helping people rarely costs money. People just pretend that it does so that they can either a) claim that they can’t afford to help others or b) claim that they have satisfied their moral duty to help others by giving money instead.

  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com/ Eamon Knight

    Being both atheist and asportual, I have to say that priest and professional athlete are equally useless vocations as far as I’m concerned ;-).

  • Trace

    His choice, I guess. Some people’s passion is Math…go figure ;)

  • Kris

    The ‘A’ on his hat looks almost like a ‘Scarlet A’ slanting the wrong way. And the wrong colour. Ahem.

  • DSimon

    Miko, I’m currently a full-time volunteer, so I’m in a position to say: helping people does cost money. Money’s not all it takes (and throwing money and money alone at a problem usually just makes it worse), but almost nobody can just go out and usefully help people without supplies and support. Soup kitchens don’t work without soup.

    Desme donating hundreds of thousands of dollars of baseball money to a carefully researched charity staffed with well-trained people would cause more benefit than going out himself and spending that same amount of time as an untrained volunteer.

    That doesn’t make Desme’s decision wrong; I applaud him for wanting to go out and help people, and anyways pursuing your dream is an important thing for anyone to be able to do (even if I would personally disagree about whether this particular dream is a good one). But, Gold isn’t wrong either.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    I respect his decision, especially since he is giving up a potentially lucrative career to do what he is passionate about. But when I heard this news, my first reaction was, “seriously, it had to be a guy in the A’s system.” The A’s are my lifelong favorite team, but they can’t catch a break these days, so if a hot minor league prospect is going to give up his career for the priesthood, it makes sense that he is on an A’s team.

  • littlejohn

    We ought to keep this in perspective. Having decent numbers at the AA level doesn’t even come close to a guarantee that he’d even make it to the majors, much less be a star. At the double-A level, he probably has a second job just to pay the rent. Add a shoulder injury, and you’ve got a guy who really ought to consider another line of work. Not the particular choice I would have made, but I wish him well.

  • http://theipu.com Ron Gold

    I pretty much figured most people would disagree with that quote of mine. It’s just how I feel.

    Let me add that I don’t think Desme’s decision makes him a hero or a villain. Like most people, he’s trying to achieve his life’s passion; it only seems strange to most of us because so many people want to be pro athletes, and not all that many want to be priests. However, I still think that if he only cared about helping people, he would try to make some big MLB dough before entering the priesthood.

    So I don’t think Desme is doing anything wrong, but let’s not pretend like self-interest isn’t playing into his decision.

  • muggle

    “Being both atheist and asportual, I have to say that priest and professional athlete are equally useless vocations as far as I’m concerned.” I’ll second that opinion. And the god damn sports are always pre-empting shows I wanna watch.

    I always find it interesting that these life-changing epiphanies mostly seem to come when the flashy careers bite the dust a la a shoulder injury.

    Of course, the gay theory’s interesting too.


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